What can destroy the boundaries of your industry


The hefty tome The Support Economy by Shoshana Zuboff and Jim Maxmin is a challenging but rewarding read, describing in detail the rise of distributed capitalism. Of all the big ideas of the last decade, the concept of business and society being driven by connected individuals and small groups is one of the most powerful, and Zuboff has arguably captured better than any.

From an even broader perspective, the biggest strategic issue in almost every industry today is the erosion of industry boundaries. Every industry is encountering new competitors: from adjacent industries, from start-ups with lower entry thresholds, and from substitutions.

At the same time, the strategic opportunities to stretch beyond your existing positioning have exploded, giving an extraordinary premium to the flexibility to take advantage of these openings.

Zuboff has a nice article in the current issue of McKinsey Quarterly, titled Creating value in the age of distributed capitalism (registration required), summarizing some of her key ideas, focusing on the idea of “mutations” in business and capitalism.

At the end of the article she provides a useful list of 7 circumstances in which mutations can destroy the boundaries of industries:

1. The products or services you offer are affordable to few but desired by many.

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Australia’s top 25 business blogs ranked by traffic


SmartCompany has released a nice list of Australia’s 25 top business blogs, created by Brad Howarth.

With the list is a useful article running through the highlights of the blogs on the list, including why these leading businesses blog, the value they get from it, how they go about it, and far more. There is also a number of good points on the keys to running a success blog.

From the article it sounds like I was the first of the 25 bloggers featured to start blogging, kicking off in 2002. Next month I’ll be celebrating 8 years of blogging. Many more have joined in since then.

Below I have put the list of the 25 business blogs together with their authors, ranked by their web traffic from Alexa as of today. A couple of cautions to sound here: This list is about the top business blogs, which is more about business impact than traffic. Also Alexa figures are pretty unreliable, though at the moment there unfortunately aren’t many better tools to rank blogs, with Technorati rankings changed and Wikio not comprehensive.

My blog comes up at rank 7, though most of the ones ahead of me are professional blogs while I get to this when I can (unfortunately this is my second post in over two weeks now 🙁 ).

See the article in SmartCompany for the full review and to see descriptions of each blog. Brad has added some other blogs that just missed the cut this year on his blog.

1. Problogger (Darren Rouse): 2,069

2. Telstra Exchange: 8,771

3. Just Creative Design (Jacob Cass): 21,866

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ABC24: Can newspapers successfully charge for online content?


My thoughts on newspaper content paywalls were recently featured in an interview on ABC24.

The segment begins with an overview of newspapers’ plans to charge for online content, including quotes from Rupert Murdoch and industry commentators, and is followed by an interview with me.

My comments in the interview include:

* There are better chances of charging for online news working for Australia, given the unusual concentration of media ownership.

* Of the various models of charging for online content, Australian newspapers are most likely to provide some content for free and a subscription for full access.

* While we cannot know whether the ‘grand experiment’ of charging for online news in 2010 will work given changing consumer attitudes, the chances are slim it will succeed.

* Some newspaper proprietors seem to hope that bundling online and iPad news with newspaper subscriptions will increase print subscriptions, though that is likely to be negligible.

Holidays in Fiji – yay!


We are about to leave for Fiji! We planned our holiday a couple of months ago, when we realized this was one of the only times I could carve out before the end of the year. Since then I’ve been too busy to appreciate the fact that it’s coming up, though knowing I’m about to go on holiday has made my intense schedule a bit easier to cope with. I will realize that it’s real when I arrive there.

We went to Fiji just over a year ago, a few weeks after Phoebe was born, and Leda hasn’t stopped talking about it since then, so it will be great to get her back there. It’s an easy destination to get to and spend time in.

I have long thought that a great holiday is one in which you start thinking things you couldn’t even imagine before you left. One week is a bit short to allow submerged ideas and perspectives to emerge, though I think they might, as I play with the kids in the pool.

Back soon!

The Daily Me is finally arriving with the convergence of social news and tablets


Last week I wrote about Flipboard and Paper.li: Social news curation hits the tipping point. The news today is that Betaworks, which developed or supported the highly successful Tweetdeck, bit.ly, Tumblr and far more, is working on News.Me, a ‘personalized news service’, in collaboration with New York Times.

While neither organization would say much about it, this will clearly be a social news service that will tap, among other resources, the vast data bit.ly has (presumably) collected on what links are shared on Twitter and other social networks. New York Times invested in Betaworks in its March $20 million Series B, and then shifted one of its early stage products into Betaworks, where it is soon to emerge as News.Me.

In his 1995 book Being Digital Nicholas Negroponte wrote about the idea of a ‘Daily Me’ newspaper, that would provide news tailored to the individual. This spawned a multi-year debate about the supposed evils of the Daily Me, which would mean people wouldn’t be exposed to the diversity of the world and would live within their own navels.

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Seven trends driving the future of financial advice


The main reason I haven’t been able to blog or Twitter much over the last week is that I am currently on a national speaking roadshow for a major financial services firm, hitting five cities in six business days, ending today. The firm is building relationships with its key financial advisors, hosting dinners in the best restaurants in each city, preceded by presentations from a prominent industry figure on the role of regulation and from myself on the big-picture future.

While I work across many industries, my background in financial services means I am often drawn back into the space. Some of my reflections on financial services trends are captured in posts I’ve written after keynotes I’ve delivered on the role of the reputation economy for professionals and financial advisors and the future of global financial services.

The future of financial advice is a massively important issue, not just due to the size of the sector, but also because quality advice is critical for many people in supporting their financial well-being. I will spend some more time delving into this issue, but for now here are seven key trends and issues that I see are driving the future of financial advice.

1. Transparency is making commissions more visible.

Transparency is an inexorable trend across industries, not least in financial services. Visibility of what are sometimes massive advisor commissions on financial product is shaping attitudes to what is fair and appropriate.

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